Balmain has always been a luxury brand with a sensual lens. Luxury, still they don’t do couture shows (although they’ve recently come out with an eveningwear capsule collection).
Yet here we are, watching what I can only describe as at moments, is a jaw-dropping combination of art and sartorial design. He says, there is something for everyone here. So there are moments in the collection when I say “pass, get back to that structural divinity…oh yes! THAT!” (re: unnecessary acid washed denim interlude.)
But he explains that he is loyal to his #BalmainArmy, and that includes the young, haven’t-lived-through-the-80’s-yet fashion lovers who need to forge their own paths and make their own style mistakes like acid washed denim.
If you’re in this category, I’m not judging you. I’m a Xennial – that poor group of lost souls sandwiched between the Gen Xers and Millennials, who thankfully missed the majority of the mistakes of the 80’s, but still loved NKOTB, the Goonies, Duck Tales, made macrame friendship bracelets, mix tapes, rode bikes until sunset, waited for dial-up modems to talk to our friends, and lived the 90’s grunge scene.
The difference between Gen Xers/Xennials and Millennials is that we had the luxury of not having our every decisions (fashion or otherwise) plastered en masse for the world to see on social media. So wear your ridiculous acid wash if you want to. I’ll try not to grimace.
Back to Balmain – Olivier Rousteing has been the creative director for Balmain for 7 years, and it has been 7 years of building a sexy Kardashian-inspired style empire of followers. But this collection broke that mold, pushing the boundaries of construction and artistic vision into sculptural and wearable art. He took inspiration from the Egyptian sculptures and architecture so richly enhancing Paris: the Luxor Obelisk in Place de la Concorde; the Pyramid at the Louvre: the Fontaine du Palmier, creating his own sculptural pieces.
Cara Delevingne opened the show in a shining silver metal breast plate with high-waisted silky trousers and matching strong-shouldered floor-sweeping robe coat.
And then, in an instant, it was the runway couture version of a model death drop in a white 360-degree pleated fan mini dress that arced almost the entirety of the dress. Oh mah gah. Ok, so there are some visuals that might come up of the Mondoshawans – the friendly aliens in The Fifth Element. But when you get past that, isn’t it kind of an amazing avant garde piece?
A series in white gauze was layered and wrapped with strong shoulders, short hems, laid back silhouettes, giving off just a cool girl vibe with just the right touch of mummified. That wrapped jumpsuit and plexi jacket is everything.
Speaking of plexi, pyramid-inspired plexiglass and acrylic panels were craftily turned into covet-worthy mini dresses, tops, skirts, and a jacket. The panels came in dream-like tones, creating fantasy designs that jutted fiercely into striking and empowering shapes.
A black and white series balanced a trifecta between 80’s, Paris, and Egypt with marbled splatter painting, hieroglyphs, and marinière stripes, followed by the denim with boucle jackets. Oh, the denim. Sigh. There’s something for everyone.
Nudes, pinks, and silvers came with surprisingly relaxed, draped feminine shapes – wrapped tops, silken joggers with quadruple strip folds at the ankles, and paper bag tie trousers – all serving under dramatic and fierce shoulders jutting out like spears.
Boucle jackets were deconstructed, complemented with angular, asymmetric skirts and shorts.
Wide belts, dresses, and jackets were created from silver metal strips, affixed like beads, dangling at the hemlines. This collection has crazy visual texture and movement, and these pieces remind me of shards from a cracking mirror that hasn’t broken out yet- especially on the jacket with the triangle pieces combined.
Balmain went full 80’s with digital style string maps of the silhouette, a two-tone one-shoulder jumpsuit, and tuxedo looks. The map outline looks are interesting, but the rest are not my style.
But the divine moment of the rhinestone studded plunge neck mini dress with sculptural arc sleeves. It was an absolute show stopper.
And girl. Those bags. Encapsulated (entombed?) in clear acrylic sheaths, the house standard satchels and round saddlebags came in metallics and crackling white and black marbling. Pastel box satchels had just a slight Tiffany vibe with a cute chain opening like a luxury gift box. Giant single chain link locks with the Balmain crest were absolutely my favorite bag. Loooove.